So, what’s the most useful business technique I could show you?
Well, I don’t know. It depends on all sorts of things — your personality, your skills, your priorities, your current challenges. But if I could just ask you a few quick questions, I’d be able to tell you exactly what you most want to know.
Using the words “I don’t know” in response to someone’s question can often help you. It gives you the chance to ask more questions first — ones that will show you the best way to answer their original question. It also stops you saying the wrong things or losing the power in a conversation.
Here are other situations where saying “I don’t know” could be extremely helpful:
All these examples help you regain control of the conversation. After all, if you answer their question before you have enough information, you’ll be guessing. And guessing increases the chance of your answer being too long or irrelevant.
This is especially important for people who sell. The instant you give your price before discussing your value, people think you’re too expensive. They’re already thinking, “can you reduce it?”.
A price doesn’t make sense on its own. Here’s a question for you: “Is £10,000 expensive?” It’s impossible to say, isn’t it? It depends what it’s for. It’s cheap for a Bentley; but exorbitant for a sandwich. So you first have to discuss what they’re buying, and establish the value they perceive is in it. And the only way to do this is? Ask them what they perceive as valuable.
Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.